Strolling into the new Caulfield’s Bar and Dining room last Friday night at 7:30 p.m., I was surprised to see only a handful of people in the dining room. More were gathered around the bar sipping cocktails by the names of The Grapes of Wrath, Roasted Manhattan and Smoking Loon.
Caulfield’s is located on the bottom floor of the Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills at the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Crescent. The space was once a Japanese sushi restaurant, Bond Street.
It’s esteemed chef, Stephen Kalt, has unveiled a new Spring menu. Kalt was the Executive Chef at Corsa Cucina restaurant at the Wynn Las Vegas. Before that, he helped create Spartina in New York City.
There are three areas to grab a bite and enjoy a drink. We were seated in the black and white dining room with painted white brick walls and rich caramel bar colored leather banquettes.
Our waitress took our drink order. I chose a Pierre Boniface, “Vin de Savoire,” Gamay Rose. It was dry, yet had a delicate essence of strawberry and raspberry. This light and crisp wine paired nicely with a bowl of forest green kale chips. I’m not sure if they are a healthier alternative to potato chips, yet they were flavorsome and fun to eat. We couldn’t decide if we should stab them with the tine of our fork or pick them up gently and plop into our palate.
Next, we happily tried the new shrimp ceviche. A large glass bowl arrived with chopped cucumber, avocado, radish, shrimp and a hint of coriander.
My husband ordered a draught of dark Black Market Anglo-American brown ale. Brewed in Temecula, CA, this beer has influences of English malt and yeast, with American hops. Its nutty flavor enhanced the artisan cheese plate that we ordered.
Cheese plates are $8 for one cheese, two for $15 or three for $21. It’s a simple plate with just a tiny splash of honey, quince paste and pickled vegetables. We ordered a few slices of the Italian Gorgonzola dolce that was soft and smooth with a hint of blue cheese. Our waitress recommended the slightly gooey Spanish Cana de Oveja. She said it was Chef Kalt’s favorite. Both were excellent.
By 8 p.m. the dining room was filling up with couples. We chose two new Spring menu items: the roasted organic half chicken and an acorn fed Spanish pork entrée. The chicken was cooked perfectly and rested on a bed of fresh English peas, sliced artichokes and little cipolini onions.
The pork was a delightful surprise. It looked like a dark piece of medium cooked beef. It was much darker than regular American pork and not as sweet tasting. When we mentioned it to our waitress, she went back into the kitchen and conferred with the chef. “Yes, it’s dry aged Spanish pork,” she announced. Maybe because this animal was fed a diet of acorns, it tasted different than a typical light colored American pork. It was rich and slightly salty, probably due to the salt curing process when dry aging.
The 5 desserts on the menu are $12 each. We tried the sticky toffee pudding with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream with candied walnuts. Next time we might try the caramelized Fuji apple crumble, Florentine doughnuts or a frozen chocolate soufflé.
Getting up to leave, we took the elevator up to the rooftop to check out the pool. Up at the top is a romantic bar with views of the city. There are two private tables for larger parties in and elegant setting. Only small plates are served here. It’s an ideal spot to enjoy a nightcap while watching the lights twinkle throughout the city.
Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Mon. thru Fri. one Sat. and Sun. breakfast is served until noon. Lunch is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Dinner service ends at 11 a.m. Parking is valet. With a restaurant validation, parking is $8. 9360 Wilshire Blvd. (310)388-6860.